WBGO Blog
  • The Detroit Jazz Festival begins with a percussion discussion

    September 3, 2011. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Joe Locke .. photo by Jeff Forman
    Joe Locke .. photos by Jeff Forman

    Opening the festival, Jeff Tain Watts's Drum Club was a visual feast in itself with Tain upstage audience right, Joe Locke downstage left, and an ocean of percussion in between. One man on one instrument, Joe worked and danced and made melodies HAPPEN, climaxing solos with fully extended, 180-degree-arm-coming-down mallet strikes. Several times. In a row. He held his own and then some.

    Upstage, Tony Lewis, Horacio Hernandez and Tain played kits on platforms left, center and right. In the middle tier, Rafael Statin played saxes, Susie Ibarra was at her beautiful kulintang -- a Philippine instrument of inverted, knobbed metal flower pots (an improvised description at best); conguero Pedro Martinez (in the photo); and bassist Bob Hurst. And the rest was all Tain’s turf, including a beautiful tympani down front. But he stayed mostly at his drumkit. Imagine rhythms flying, at first more abstract, then in deeper grooves, which the audience loved. The festival has begun.

    Pedro Martinez .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Pedro Martinez .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Jeff Tain Watts .. Photo by Jeff Forman
    Jeff Tain Watts .. Photo by Jeff Forman
  • Mohonk Redux

    January 28, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Here are a few images from Jazz on the Mountain, Michael Bourne's yearly January retreat at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz. Fran Kaufman took these photos. Fran is always on the scene, taking shots of music in the making. Now thru February 24th, you can see more of Fran Kaufman's jazz photography at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Brooklyn Next Art series.

    Here's Steven Bernstein and the Millennial Territory Orchestra:
    Steve Bernstein and MTO by Fran Kaufman

    Vibraphonist Joe Locke:
    Joe Locke by Fran Kaufman

    Brasileiros - Maucha Adnet, Duduka da Fonseca, and Helio Alves:
    Maucha Adnet Duduka da Fonseca Helio Alves by Fran Kaufman

    And Michael Bourne very much in his element with Maucha Adnet and Dena DeRose:
    Maucha Adnet Michael Bourne Dena DeRose by Fran Kaufman

    Finally, a note from Michael Bourne:
    "Jazz on the Mountain" was the best it's been in the 9 years I've been working the jazzfest at Mohonk Mountain House. All three nights the enormous hotel was sold-out, first time ever for the whole Martin Luther King weekend. Every concert was a hit, which was especially heartening since I book artists that I personally like. Joe Locke was especially a hit, playing opening night with The Brazilian Trio (Helio Alves, Nilson Matta, Duduka da Fonseca) and Maucha Adnet, playing an electrifying show Saturday afternoon and getting a standing O with his own new Force of Four group, joining Dena DeRose on Sunday afternoon, and highlighting the free-form "Parlor Games" on Monday morning. When I asked folks which were favorite shows, every artist was enthusiastically named, including singer Kendra Shank, Steven Bernstein and the Millenial Territory Orchestra, Hipmotism with saxophonist Erik Lawrence and singer Marya Lawrence. Marya Lawrence was the surprise of the weekend, twice playing seriously bopping solos on a slide-kazoo. The Frank Vignola Quintet blew the roof off Sunday evening with the swinging vitality of Django's Hot Club Quintet but without trying to imitate Django. I "performed" "As Time Goes By" during the Monday morning musical mixing and matching of players from the weekend. We've already pretty much programmed next year's jazzfest, which will be my 10th at Mohonk." -- MBourne

  • A Few of My Favorite Things

    January 3, 2008. Posted by Cephas Bowles.

    As the General Manager of WBGO, I am a jazz fan and listen to the station quite a bit. While I work at the station, and had an above-average knowledge of jazz prior to moving back to Newark to assume this gig, I'm not all knowing and actually learn quite a bit about jazz and what I like from the station. Thank you, WBGO announcers!!!! In this short post, I want to share with you SOME of the things that I like about jazz.

    I lust for the sound of a driving rhythm section. There's nothing better than being able to peck out the rhythm with one's neck (thank you Cecil Brooks III) while driving down a wide open road with jazz blasting from the radio. Drummers are among my favorites--Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes.

    I like the melodic sound of the vibraphone played so beautifully or pretty , as Michael Bourne says, that you have to stop to listen to it. I like Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Locke and Stefon Harris. There are others but those three stand out. I love Cal Tjader and regret that I didn't go to see him when I lived out West and he was still with us!

    I adore the big sound of the Hammond B-3 played by someone who knows how to get every ounce of funk and bass from this king of instruments. Add a great guitarist and drummer and you have listening heaven. The sound overwhelms you. I don't know anyone who can sit still while a good organ trio is doing its thing. I loved Charles Earland. Jimmy Smith was great but didn't move me the way the Earland did. (Yes, I realize that I've just trangressed against an icon of the B3!!!) Joey D., McGriff, Radam, they're good but nobody fills the shoes left by the Mighty One.

    I like the sound of lyrical pianists who play effortlessly and take those compositions and make them sing. Horace Silver and Cyrus Chestnut are two of my favorites! I also love jazz pianists who sound like they are playing percussion. Michel Camilo, Don Pullen and Danny Mixon are examples. And, then, there are those pianists who command the instrument to perform--Harold Mabern and McCoy Tyner.

    I like uncommon instruments played well. Andy Narell on steel pans; the late Roland Kirk playing nose flute, manzello and stritch; Steve Turre with his shells; Regina Carter playing lots of violin; and Toots Thielemann's whistling. Paquito D'Rivera's Tango Band includes a guest bandoneon player. I love the sound of that accordion-like instrument.

    I love Latin and Brazilian jazz. Again, so rhythmic and full of fun.

    There are so many great saxophonists who swing. The late great Jackie Mac, James Carter, Eric Alexander, Joe Lovano, and countless others.

    I love the young guys who are working hard to develop their chops on various instruments and who value the music historically and practically.

    I truly appreciate the knowledge of jazz and love of music that the WBGO announcers bring to the table each day and the fact that the station's Board of Trustees are committed to the 24/7 presentation of this music.

    I value your interest in music as demonstrated by your review of this very modest post and your attention to all that WBGO does for you and other music fans. I also appreciate the opportunity to share a bit of myself with you through this blog.

    Each staff person at WBGO is a fan of the music. If you come to our events or talk with us on the phone or elsewhere, you'll learn that for yourself. Many of us work in WBGO's back room. That is, the second floor of our office building where some WBGO staff members think it's too quiet and too far from the jazz action. It isn't and, best of all, we have radios and computers that bring the sound to us just fine!!!! Thanks for allowing us to do this for you and for us.

    These are a few of my favorite things--some of life's simple and all-too-often unspoken pleasures. I hope that you have some and will share them with family and friends. Record parties and word-of-mouth comments work well to introduce people to this music and to whet the appetites of those unfamiliar with our favorite things.

    Cephas Bowles

    WBGO General Manager